Try being sick for a year,
then having that year turn into two,
until the memory of your health is like an island
going out of sight behind you
and you sail on in twilight.
with the sound of waves.
It's not a dream. You pass
through waiting rooms and clinics
until the very sky seems pharmaceutical,
and the faces of the doctors are your stars
whose smile or frown
means to hurry and get well
And because illness feels like punishment,
an enormous effort to be good
comes out of you--
like the good behavior of a child
desperate to appease
the invisible parents of this world.
And when that fails,
there is an orb of anger
rising like the sun above
the mind afraid of death,
and then a lake of grief, staining everything below,
and then a holding action of neurotic vigilance
and then a recitation of the history
of second chances.
And the illusions keep on coming.
and fading out, and coming on again
while your skin turns yellow from the medicine.
your ankles swell like dough above your shoes,
and you stop wanting to make love
because there is no love in you,
only a desire to be done.
But you're not done.
Your bags are packed
and you are travelling.
--Tony Hoagland here